The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

University should lower online tuition

3 min read

UMW Students pay the same amount of tuition for online classes that they would pay for in-person education. | Unsplash


Staff Writer

According to a survey of 13,606 college students in the US by online study platform OneClass, more than 93 percent of students believe that if classes are fully held online, tuition should be lowered. They also found that 75 percent of college students are unhappy with the quality of online classes, and 35 percent have considered withdrawing from school. For this reason, I believe that students should pay lower tuition for online classes.

Students who are taking all online classes are paying the same tuition as those who are taking hybrid or in-person classes. However, colleges that offer purely online degrees have a lower tuition cost than a regular in-person degree, according to an article in the New York Times. For example, Georgia Tech offers an online masters in computer science. In 2014, the degree cost $7,000, which was one-sixth the cost of its in-person program. That is a huge tuition difference. Another example is from 2015, when the University of Illinois started an online M.B.A program. That cost $22,000 and that is a fraction of the cost of most business schools. 

According to an article by the American Economic Association, they found that students get lower grades in online classes and are more likely to drop out of college than similar students taking the same classes in-person.  They also got lower grades in future classes because their learning was stunted by taking an online class. This shows that students learn better in in-person classes and thus, benefit far more from in-person classes than online classes. This semester, all of my classes are online so I have to take them online. However, my peers taking in-person classes similar to mine are getting face-to-face instruction and better education. 

Online classes pose some problems not found with in-person education. For instance, in-person learning has far fewer distractions than online classes. When students learn in a classroom, they are more focused due to the environment. When classes are online, there are distractions such as using a phone or laptop for reasons other than school. 

Something else to consider is that students pursue online classes for varying reasons. Some feel safer taking online classes, some people want to live at home and not pay rent, and some people have medical conditions. For people who are immunocompromised or have another medical condition that puts them at higher risk for coronavirus, they have no choice but to take online classes for the sake of their health. Other students have far more classes to choose from but ALL students are paying the same tuition as students who choose to get an in-person education versus online. 

“Some of my classes aren’t offered online. The school is expecting me to drop those classes and sign up for alternative classes,” said junior Samantha Price in an interview with USAToday. “That’s a problem because I shouldn’t have to sacrifice my classes of choice when an able-bodied student gets to go into class.” 

Students at higher risk from COVID-19 do not have a choice and have to take online classes. Why should they have to pay the same amount as people who can reap the benefits of in-person education?

While the university has created a plan to transition to in-person classes, some students feel left behind. Some students are going to miss the college experience and feel they are paying too much for their education. Personally, all my classes are online and I do not feel like I am receiving the same education that I received in person.  It is too late to change tuition costs for this semester, but UMW should consider reevaluating the tuition costs for next semester, in order to ensure everyone is paying a more fair amount for the education they receive. 

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